The time has come for our May SEO news recap. We’ll go over this month’s top SEO and local marketing news and updates, so that you can be up to speed with Google and all industry developments and trends. We will dip your toes into Google My Business and home service ads updates. We will also share with you the hot news from the Search Engine Journal Summit, chat bots for local businesses, and the latest local feature upgrades on the leading social networks.
GOOGLE LOCAL EXPERIMENTS
GOOGLE MY BUSINESS DASHBOARD IMPROVED
Google has just rolled out two new functionalities into GMB’s dashboard, giving business owners better control and experience when managing their Google My Business listings:
- The new menu brings together all the important GMB features including account info, insights, reviews, photos, user management, and the list of all business locations. Additionally, you are now able to easily switch between your business accounts:
- Two features have been added within the update of GMB’s photo management interface – the number of image views and the upload time of the photos:
NEW REVIEW FORMAT FOR HOTELS
Google is testing a new way of showing customer reviews filtering them by traveler type (families, solo, couples, and businesses) and categories (rooms, location, services, and facilities). There are also changes in the user interface as Google started to display a carousel with average ratings by traveler types.
PRICE TAGS IN THE LOCAL SEARCH RESULTS
Another Google test was communicated by Sergey Alakov that shows price related tags into the local search results for hotels. The tags appear in both the local 3-pack and in the Local Finder. In the 3-pack the price tags are shown over the image of the hotel listings, while in the map they are presented like clickable pins that expand to hotel’s Knowledge Panel. By adding this new feature Google will help users to make more informed decision on the go by considering top factors like price, location, and customer reviews.
HOME SERVICE ADS ARE COMING TO EAST COST
Local providers on US East Coast like plumbers, house cleaners, locksmiths will soon have the opportunity to take advantage of Google’s Home Service ads. The beta program is currently targeted towards local business providers in selected cities in Los Angeles, San Diego, Sacramento, Stockton, and the San Francisco Bay area. In order to be featured in those ads, local providers should meet Google’s qualifying criteria and also undergo verification process.
PIMPED RESTAURANT SEARCH RESULTS
A new section in the Knowledge Panel called “Highlights” gives a fresh new look to local SERPs. It consists of icons visualizing the restaurant main characteristics that distinguish it from its competitors:
GOOGLE GLOBAL EXPERIMENTS
NO MORE FOMO GREAT EVENTS
Google released a new event search feature that provides a summary of events from websites like Eventbribe and Meetup. When users enter search terms such as “rock concerts near me” or “theater shows Chicago”, the search results bring up listings containing the name of the event, its date, time, and location. The feature is currently available on the mobile version of Google search in the U.S. If you are an event organizer, check out the developers guidelines provided by Google on how to markup your events in order to make it easier for users to discover them.
“ON THIS PAGE” BUTTONS
Google is testing a new mobile search interface and is showing “On this page” feature with clickable tags. Sergey Alakov, who was the first one to report this, shared that when clicked tags lead you directly to the relevant section on the given web page.
IMPROVED ADWORDS REPORTING
Google announced new reporting features aiming to help AdWords advertisers estimate the quality of their ads, landing pages, and keywords. You can get historical Quality Score data starting from January 22, 2016 by simply adding the following new columns to the keyword report: Expected click-through rate, Ad Relevance, and Landing Page Experience.
A REMINDER ABOUT BACKLINK SPAM
Google released a blog post highlighting the risks of aggressive link-building methods. It is something that SEOs and website owners need to be aware of because as a result websites might experience negative ranking movements. Here is the list of bad practices that are against Google’s guidelines on link schemes and are worth examining and avoiding:
THE LATEST GOOGLE SEARCH QUALITY EVALUATORS GUIDELINES
Google revised its instructions for quality raters, who help the search engine to detect and eliminate different types of low quality search results. The changes are mainly focusing on fake news, clickbait, misleading titles, ads and content. Google usually quietly updates these guidelines so nobody can guarantee when the next edition is going to make its appearance. Fortunately, the latest update went public, so you may use it to ensure the high quality of your website and, respectively, its higher rankings.
BING BUSINESS BOTS
Last month Bing was spotted experimenting with a Skype-powered chatbot that answers restaurant-related questions like giving directions, answering questions about meal specifics, parking, reservations, prices, discounts, even required dress code directly on the SERPs. Bing is now officially rolling out Business bots (starting with restaurants in Seattle area) that can automatically answer frequently asked customer questions on the behalf of the given business. Not only it’s free to use but also you can add the chatbots to your business website.
INSTAGRAM IS GETTING HYPER-LOCAL
Shortly after Snapchat released its Story Search feature, Instagram didn’t wait too much and put a local touch on its Stories by adding location pins and hashtags. At the top of the Explore tab Instagram puts together all the stories that are happening around your current location. If you want your local content to be easily found by other users on Instagram Stories, be sure to use the location tag in your Story as shown bellow:
ORDER YOUR FAVOURITE DISH WITHIN FACEBOOK
Facebook was spotted testing a new feature allowing users to order food, place items from the wish list to the shopping cart, and pay directly via Facebook’s main navigation menu.
(Image by Jose Gutierrez)
The new feature is an add-on to Facebook’s latest update with a local intent back in October 2016. Then the company introduced the function to order food from local restaurants directly from their pages by adding a button called “Start Order”. The only requirement is those restaurants to be using the platforms Delivery.com or Slice.
REDDIT BRINGS LOCATION TAGGING OPTION
Reddit teamed up with Foursquare and launched a new feature to its mobile app that allows Reddit users to add location information to their posts. As this feature is completely optional, users may stay completely anonymous if they want to and not add such detailed information to their updates on Reddit.
CONFERENCES AND EVENTS
CAN’T-MISS TAKEAWAYS FORM SEJ SUMMIT
At this year’s SEJ Summit, top SEO and digital marketing experts shared a bunch of useful insights, tips, facts, and latest industry stats:
- Purva Virji from Microsoft announced that chat bots will soon take the place of web browsers and shared some interesting results from a research conducted by Gartner: “30% of web browsing will be screen-less by 2020” and “85% of customer relationships will be managed without human interaction by 2020”.
- Zak Ramdani, a SEO at HootSuite, shared his tactics on how to optimize content for Google featured snippet boxes. He provided a list of three rules he follows when optimizing for Featured Snippets:
(Image by Eugene Feygin)
- Jenny Halasz and Duane Forrest covered another prominent topic – mobile and mobile SEO. Duane reminded that “If mobile is not your #1 investment – you are hosed!” and backed up his statement with stats: “73% of kids 8-15 have a smartphone (63% have a tablet) and 80% of them download online content”.
(Image by Eugene Feygin)
Jenny Halasz discussed the benefits of using Google Analytics for mobile SEO and pointed out that “Google will not use your AMP pages to rank you! So, you need to fix your mobile site!”. Here are the three key takeaways from her presentation:
(Image by Eugene Feygin)
- Patrick Kajirian shared how ESPN handled their massive site migration and shared valuable site migration SEO tips. Additionally, he discussed the SEO, technical and marketing benefits of migrating a website, including revitalized domain authority, metadata cleanup, redirects cleanup, relief from tech debt, cost savings, and improved branding.
Thanks for reading our monthly news recap on the latest updates from the world of search marketing and make sure not to miss our upcoming June edition!